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Ford-Volkswagen Partnership: More Details Coming Next Week… Maybe

We’ve previously reported on the discussions that have been ongoing between automotive giants Ford and the Volkswagen Group regarding a multi-layered partnership. The goal of such a partnership is widely understood to be cost-saving, first and foremost.

It’s now been learned that organizers of the Detroit auto show have reserved a time and space for a “pending industry announcement”. Clearly this looks tailor-made to give the two manufacturers a platform to provide the initial details of their partnership.

That said, nothing at all has been confirmed, not even that there will be an announcement at all on Tuesday. Sources close to the negotiations are saying that the two sides could still decide to postpone an announcement if they feel that more negotiations are necessary before going public.

Neither Ford nor Volkswagen is making any public statements regarding a possible announcement next week.

As for any details about the extent or parameters of the partnership being discussed, what we know so far is very vague. We do expect that if representatives of the two companies step up to the microphone in Detroit next week, it will be to announce something substantial. We say this for a few reasons, namely:

1. Ford and VW have been talking for months about a strategic alliance that would have ramifications throughout the industry. Next week’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the last to take place in January before it moves to the month of June in 2020, is in Ford’s backyard; there couldn’t be a better platform for the American carmaker to make its announcement.

2. Bloomberg has reported that Volkswagen’s top brass will be meeting on Friday, January 11, in order to greenlight the partnership deal.

3. The time slot reserved for a “pending industry announcement” has been listed on the auto show’s schedule since it was published last December 14. It’s scheduled for 8:30 AM Tuesday.

4. The two companies have already spoken about the potential agreement, specifying that it does not involve a fusing of the companies, but a partnership.

5. Jim Farley, Ford president of global markets, said this week that discussions between the  companies were “far along, very deep”, and explained that the two parties were “making really good progress over a lot of different projects, each over a different timeline”.

6. Among the possible partnerships under discussion have to do with autonomous vehicles and mid-size pickups.  Clearly, Volkswagen would love to make use of the new Ranger’s platform for its Amarok, still in the concept phase.

7. Volkswagen boss Herbert Diess has mentioned that Volkswagen would like to make use of some Ford assembly plants to produce VW models.

8. Lastly, Bill Ford himself said last month that the discussions were progressing quickly, and that the similar operating philosophies of the two companies made a potential partnership feasible.  

That’s a lot of smoke for there to be no fire, clearly. We’ll have to see if more is revealed on Tuesday, or if either or both sides get cold feet ahead of the wedding.

2019 Ford Ranger
Photo: D.Heyman
2019 Ford Ranger

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